A Remembrance Day ad that will bring a tear to your eye

Remembrance DayRemembrance Day is a special day in Canada. We take a moment of silence at 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month, to commemorate the very moment that World War One ended.

This year is even more special as it marks the 100th anniversary of the end of the war.

History of Remembrance Day in Canada:

Every Canadian kid learns about “In Flanders Fields,” a poem written during the First World War by Canadian physician Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae (November 30, 1872 – January 28, 1918). He was a Canadian poet, physician, author, artist and soldier during World War I. He was a surgeon during the Second Battle of Ypres, in Belgium. McCrae was inspired to write “In Flanders Fields” on May 3, 1915, after presiding over the funeral of a friend and fellow soldier Alexis Helmer, who died in the Second Battle of Ypres.

Remembrance Day

According to legend, fellow soldiers retrieved the poem after McCrae, initially dissatisfied with his work, discarded it. “In Flanders Fields” was first published on December 8 of that year in the London-based magazine Punch. The red remembrance poppy has become a familiar emblem of Remembrance Day due to the poem In Flanders Fields.

These poppies bloomed across some of the worst battlefields of Flanders in World War I, their brilliant red colour became a symbol for the blood spilled in the war.  McCrae died of pneumonia months before the end of the war, while still working at a hospital for Canadian soldiers in Belgium.

Bell Poppy Ad

This new Bell ad tells a beautiful story from the eyes of a little girl, as she learns about Remembrance Day and does something very touching for a veteran. It’s a very Canadian storyline, and I hope you can appreciate every little subtlety in this ad. There are no words, and you have to pay close attention to every detail. In the ad, a little girl peers out a school bus window and sees a veteran selling poppies by the side of the road.

It prompts her to google “what is a poppy,” which starts her on the learning process about Remembrance Day. The little girl emails someone in Belgium, asking if they are near Flanders Field, a link to the poem above. Then a letter arrives, presumably from the person in Belgium. The little girl takes the note to the veteran, giving it to him in a very touching tribute and a beautiful moment.

Bell Dieppe Ad

Bell Canada has a long history of paying tribute to our veterans. Below is an ad from the mid-90s, when we were still excited that we could call from anywhere. In the ad, a young 20-year-old visiting Dieppe phones home to Canada to talk to his grandfather, just to say “thank you.” Dieppe holds a special place for Canadians. Two years before D-Day, 6,000 Canadians tried to land on the beach at Dieppe, but less than half survived. We see many tributes to the soldiers, but this one sends a chill through me every time I watch.

Wear a poppy. Lest we forget.

As the world gets crazy, “Canada” starts trending

I am Canadian.

That’s not only an editorial disclosure, not just a statement of pride, but it’s actually an advertising tagline for a beer (see below). This might say a lot about us actually. If not, then I might add that we are even more patriotic about a donut shop. True story.

 

We can all agree that the year 2016 has been a crazy year so far–gun violence, terrorism, politics, politicians,  primaries, referendums. Every time that something crazy happens, we have seen a huge spike in Google searches for “Move to Canada”. Last week, “Move to Canada” saw a dramatically huge spike in England following the Brexit vote as many on the “Stay” side were looking for options for the future.CluSLIEVEAE_Jw6 I suppose we might have a lot in common with Britain, so maybe Canada is the natural temptation for those wanting to move.

We saw a similar spike back for “Move to Canada” in the US, back in March after Trump won Super Tuesday for the Republican race, appearing as the presumptive nominee. Even back in 2004, there  was a huge spike in “Move to Canada” on George Bush defeated John Kerry. I suppose Canada has always been the potential escape for American liberals. https---blueprint-api-production.s3.amazonaws.com-uploads-card-image-13727-Screen_Shot_2016-03-02_at_1.12.05_AM

While 2016 has been a crazy year for the world, it appears that the Canadian brand is on the rise. We have cool Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, who is young (44), good-looking with modern liberal views, outspoken on his support for women, native Canadians and newly minted Syrian refugees. Imagine a politician in these times not only pushing for Syrian refugees, but he showed up at the airport to welcome them to Canada. Trudeau’s trip to Washington made the news, with a similar impact as how Prince William or Harry might generate. He had a tremendous impact on President Obama who referred to him as the most popular Canadian ever. Trudeau is making most of the top 100 most influential lists. Tourism Canada has caught on to Trudeau being one of their bigger assets to re-positioning Canada as modern, hip, cosmopolitan and accepting, hoping to attract tourists from around the world. Especially those Americans feeling disenfranchised by the current political climate in the US Presidential race. Recently, the Canadian visa website has been flooded with download requests.https---blueprint-api-production.s3.amazonaws.com-uploads-card-image-13721-trump

Research shows that tourism is up 8.5% for Canada, and about 1 in 10 Americans have considered a vacation to Canada, although they have expressed concerns about potential cold weather and the perceived lack of urban sophistication. Both of these are misguided stereotypes. Just so everyone knows, Vancouver weather is identical to Seattle (both rarely ever get snow) and Toronto is just like Chicago or Boston (a mix of snow in winter and heat in the summer). As for urban sophistication, Canada has a very urban population (80% of Canadians live in urban areas), and Toronto is the 4th largest metropolitan area in North America. Those who visit talk about how clean Canada is, how safe they feel and how friendly the people are. Many of the Canadian cities are consistently rated as some of the best cities in the world. We have some of the greatest natural beauties in the world, with the Rockies of the West or Newfoundland of the East.

Aside from hockey, beer and donuts, what does the Canadian brand  have to offer?

If you do move to Canada, there are lots of things that you will need to adjust to. We have higher speed limits but the cars go just as fast. Most  things that you hear about that “will never work” are actually working here in Canada. Here is my guide to moving to Canada.

  • It’s not as cold as you think. It seems every time I’m hosting American friends in the winter, all of a sudden the weather turns cold as hell.lake-ice This year’s NBA All Star game didn’t help. But the reality is that we are about as cold as Chicago or New York. (Average high in January is 33F for Toronto, 32F in Chicago and 35F in New York). We do take a bit of pride in our ability to deal with cold weather, but we do complain  when it gets really cold. If the cold gets to you, then go to Vancouver where you can experience mid 40s and 50s in January. In the summer, our temperatures are 70s,  80s and even 90s. Now, what may confuse you is we talk about our weather in Celsius, not Fahrenheit. Canada only went to metric back in the 1970s because the US was moving to metric. Go figure.
  • We are fairly liberal. In fact, our Liberal party is considered the moderate party in the middle.  We have very strict gun control. The only guns I have ever touched in my life were either in a museum or a game of laser tag. We have free healthcare, which is fairly good, if you don’t mind a little wait time. Our University tuition is relatively affordable. I now have two kids in University and the combined tuition is $18,000 (Canadian) for the two kids  (or $14K in USD). No matter what University you choose, the tuition is pretty much the same. Same sex marriage has been the law for over a decade. Our immigration policies are a source of pride for many Canadians. And a necessity for our growth.
  • We get the exact same entertainment as the US. No one really watches Canadian television. Plus many of “your” stars are Canadian (Ryan Reynolds, Ryan Gosling, Rachel McAdams, Seth Rogen, Mike Meyers, Drake, Justin Bieber). The good news is there is no such thing as Canadian food, aside from Poutine and Beaver Tails, but those are fairly safe if you like french fries and lots of sugar.
  • Our money is cute.loonie-1 Yes every bill is a different color, red, purple, green or blue. And, it takes me a few minutes  explain that we don’t have a $1 bill and that we have a $1 coin that everyone just calls a “Loonie”.  Most think I’m being sarcastic when I say it’s a “Loonie”, but refuse to believe me when I try to convince them that we call the $2 coin a “Two-nie”. But it’s true.  Also, our milk comes in bags. It would take me forever to explain that one. And I’m still not joking.
  • We are huge sports fans: On a cold winter morning, many Canadian parents are waking up at 530am and taking their kids to hockey practice. I know I did that many times. “Hockey Parents” is an actually term here. Over 27 million Canadians watched the gold medal Olympic hockey final (90% of our population) whereas only one-third of Americans watch the Super Bowl. With last year’s Blue Jays in the playoffs, 12 million people watched (1/3 of our population) about the same number of total viewers as the entire US, which has 10 times the population and it’s your sport not ours. At Christmas time, about 5-6 million Canadians watch the “World Juniors” which is an annual tournament for teenagers. image
  • Canadians are polite, but no nicer. I always giggle when people say “Canadians are so nice”, because I know it’s more linked to being polite and well-mannered. Be careful, because we are not nicer than anyone else.
  • Happy Canada Day! There was no war of independence here. July 1st is the day we chose to recognize our independence. No shots fired. Just diplomacy. While we officially became a country in 1867, it took another 100 years for us get the Canadian flag and 120+ years for us to get our constitution. But don’t go quoting the Constitution, because no one here really knows what it says. If you do decide to go for your Canadian citizenship, you should know that the Queen is still our head of state. Just because we took our time to become a country, don’t underestimate our Canadian patriotism.

Happy Canada Day!!!

To read how to create a beloved brand, read the following presentation:

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, we promise that we will make your brand stronger and your brand leaders smarter. We can help you come up with your brand’s Brand Positioning, Big Idea and Brand Concept. We also can help create Brand Plans that everyone in your organization can follow and helps to focus your Marketing Execution. We provide a new way to look at Brand Management, that uses a provocative approach to align your brand to the sound fundamentals of brand management.

We will make your team of Brand Leaders smarter so they can produce exceptional work that drives stronger brand results. We offer brand training on every subject in marketing, related to strategic thinking, analytics, brand planning, positioning, creative briefs, customer marketing and marketing execution.

To contact us, email us at graham@beloved-brands.com or call us at 416-885-3911.You can also find us on Twitter @belovedbrands.

GR bio Jun 2016.001

 

A casual and cool Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sells a new type of Canada

CgpID6RUgAE5OKIAs a Canadian, I am used to Canada being very low-key on the world stage. However, all that seems to be changing with the election of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. For me, it started the morning after we elected Trudeau back in the fall of 2015, when one of my friends texted me “I hear you have a hot new Prime Minister”.

Trudeau is young (44), good-looking with modern liberal views, outspoken on his support for women, native Canadians and newly minted Syrian refugees. Imagine a politician in these times not only pushing for Syrian refugees, but he showed up at the airport to welcome them to Canada. Trudeau’s trip to Washington made the news, with a similar impact as how Prince William or Harry might generate. He had a tremendous impact on President Obama who referred to him as the most popular Canadian ever. Trudeau is making most of the top 100 most influential lists.

Here’s the type of Prime Minister we have here in Canada, as he welcomes Syrian refugees at the airport.

 

 

 

And now Trudeau is literally selling Canada.

Tourism Canada has caught on to Trudeau being one of their bigger assets to re-positioning Canada as modern, hip, cosmopolitan and accepting, hoping to attract tourists from around the world. Especially those Americans feeling disenfranchised by the current political climate in the US Presidential race. Recently, the Canadian visa website has been flooded with download requests.CO-Truedeau04.JPG

Research shows that tourism is up 8.5% for Canada, and about 1 in 10 Americans have considered a vacation to Canada, although they have expressed concerns about potential cold weather and the perceived lack of urban sophistication. Both of these are misguided stereotypes. Just so everyone knows, Vancouver weather is identical to Seattle (both rarely ever get snow) and Toronto is just like Chicago or Boston (a mix of snow in winter and heat in the summer). As for urban sophistication, Canada has a very urban population (80% of Canadians live in urban areas), and Toronto is the 4th largest metropolitan area in North America. Those who visit talk about how clean Canada is, how safe they feel and how friendly the people are. Many of the Canadian cities are consistently rated as some of the best cities in the world. We have some of the greatest natural beauties in the world, with the Rockies of the West or Newfoundland of the East.

Below is a new Canadian tourism video, prominently featuring Trudeau, that was just released by Destination Canada. He nails some all the key talking points, showing our culinary sophistication, talking about the diversity of Canadians and just showing a very casual coolness that feels different than a politician would normally project themselves. He even talks about a consumer insight that I’ve always been fond of: “Canada has such a beautiful diversity, that it is one the only places where you can’t tell who is local and who is a tourist”. Have a look, and see if this guy is more casual and at ease with people than Obama or Bill Clinton or Tony Blair.

 

 

Now whether this type of low-key casual spot is enough to drive tourism sales in Canada, we likely can expect Trudeau’s next 5 years as Prime Minister will continue to drive intrigue and knowledge of the new emerging Canada. Below is a YouTube clip of Trudeau (a former teacher) explaining Quantum computing–and my guess is that most views are not to learn more about computers.

 

 

 

Would you consider traveling to Canada?

 

To read more about brand positioning, here’s a workshop we run:

 

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, we promise that we will make your brand stronger and your brand leaders smarter. We can help you come up with your brand’s Brand Positioning, Big Idea and Brand Concept. We also can help create Brand Plans that everyone in your organization can follow and helps to focus your Marketing Execution. We provide a new way to look at Brand Management, that uses a provocative approach to align your brand to the sound fundamentals of brand management. 

We will make your team of Brand Leaders smarter so they can produce exceptional work that drives stronger brand results. We offer brand training on every subject in marketing, related to strategic thinking, analytics, brand planning, positioning, creative briefs, customer marketing and marketing execution. 

To contact us, email us at graham@beloved-brands.com or call us at 416-885-3911.You can also find us on Twitter @belovedbrands. 

Positioning 2016.112

 

Making brand leaders better at running the brand financials

Great Brand Leaders, not only drive demand, they drive profitable demand.

Slide1A lot of marketers enter in marketing as a career because they weren’t into the numbers part of business. However, the reality is that to run a brand you have to be good at running the P&L. The only reason that brands exist is that you can create a bond, power and profit, beyond what the product itself could achieve. At Beloved Brands, we believe that passion matters because the more loved a brand is by consumers the more powerful and profitable that brand can be. So in everything you do as a brand leader, even as you are launching new products, creating new advertising or writing a great brand plan, you have to have profit front and center in everything you do. Yet, there are far too many Brand Leaders who can’t run the P&L. These Brand Leaders hit the mid-point of their career and then we realize that they aren’t very good with numbers and all of a sudden, a fast track career for the super star Brand Manager completely stalls. As you’re looking up to the director level jobs, challenge yourself to get better with finance.

Looking at the P&L

Here’s my Finance 101 that can help  simplify your role with the P&L. This is meant for the Brand Manager level who is aspiring to continuing to move up.  But regardless of level, if you secretly are weak in the P&L area, this might help you.  Slide1

While it’s important to learn every line of the P&L, where Brand Leaders can have the biggest impact is on the Net Sales, the Gross Margin and the Contribution Margin.  The Net Sales line is simply Gross Sales minus the Trade Spend. Some income statements have brought the trade spend up to the sales line, while others have left it down in the cost line. Check with your company’s or country’s way of doing it.  In many industries, the trade terms are dictated by the channels.  While I would want to say the more Beloved Brands have a power over the channels, many times they still aren’t able to turn that power into lowering the trade spend.  If the trade spend is out of your control, you should be working with sales to ensure you are maximizing the value in programs that you are getting for the trade spend.  

Net Sales is the Unit Sales times Net Price. For unit sales, you’ll have to either drive the market share or enter new markets. That’s where the marketing programs you leverage drive faster growth relative to the spend. And for price, you can increase price or get consumers to trade up to a premium price within your portfolio.  The overall brand image you drive will usually be one of the biggest impacts on price. The more love you create for the brand, the more inelastic the price. 

Gross Margin is Net Sales minus Cost of Goods.  Just like above this can be impacted by how high of a price premium you can drive for the brand, or whether you can lower your Cost of Goods without impacting the quality of the product.  As a Brand Manager, this becomes your primary focus for “profit” as you feel the below the line costs are out of you control, so you don’t pay much attention to them.   However, as you get up to the Director or VP level, you get involved in discussions about marketing spend, R&D and the goals for the bottom line contribution margin levels.  This is where your strength or weakness in running the P&L begins to really show up.  

The ways brand leaders can Drive the P&L

Looking at the above P&L lines, in a slightly different way you really have 8 different areas that you can impact the Profit:

    • With Price, you can increase/decrease the price or you can get consumers to trade up to a premium line or down to a value line.   
    • When looking at Costs, you’re either driving the product costs or the marketing costs. You’re trying to minimize the costs without impacting the brand or the impact on the brand.
    • Driving the Market Share is a focus on either stealing other users or getting your current users to use more. 
    • The Market Size is all about entering new categories or finding new uses for your current brand.  

Slide1

Using Price as a weapon to drive brand value.  It can be a price change, up or down, or it could be trying to get consumers to trade up or down.

  • Price Increase: You can do a price increase if the market or brand allows you. It likely has to be based on passing along cost increases. Factors that help are whether you are a healthy brand or it’s a healthy market as well as the power of your brand vs competition and channel.
  • Price Decrease: Used when fighting off competitor, if you need to react to a sluggish economy or channel pressure. Another reason to decrease price is if you have a competitive advantage around cost, whether that’s manufacturing, materials or distribution.

There are watch outs for price changes. It’s difficult to execute price changes especially if it has to go through retailers. You need to understand power relationships–how powerful are the retailers. Many times, price changes are scrutinized so badly by retailers that you must have proof of why you are doing it. Also, it’s quite likely your Competitors will (over) react. So your assumptions you used to go with the price increase will change right after. And finally, it’s not easy to change back.

  • Trading Up: If you have In a range of products, sometimes it can be beneficial to get consumers to trade up. Can you carve out a meaningful difference to create a second tier that goes beyond your current brand? Does your brand image/ratings allow it?
  • Trading Down: Risky, but you see unserved market, with minimal damage to image/reputation of the brand. In a tough economy, it might be better to create a value set of products rather than lower the price on your main products.

When looking at Price Increases, here’s a formula to help get you started on your analysis for gaining approval.  

Slide1

Beloved Brands seem more capable at driving profits through pricing, but they also are careful to ensure the premium does not become excessive to create backlash. There are a few watch outs around trying to trade up or down: Premium skus, can feel orphaned at retail world—on the shelf or missing ads or displays. Managing multiple price levels can be difficult—what to support, price differences etc. For all the effort you go to, make sure your margins stay consistently strong through the trading up or down. Be careful that you don’t lose focus on your core business. Can’t be all things to everyone. The final concern is what does it do your Brand’s image, especially risky when trading downward.

Managing cost as a weapon to enhance the Brand’s Value. It can be either your cost of goods or the potential selling costs.

  • Cost of Goods Decreases: You are able to use the power of your brand to drive power over your suppliers, you find cheaper potential raw materials, process improvement or find off-shore manufacturing.
  • Cost of Goods Increases: Make sure that you manage the COGs as they increase. Watch out for suppliers trying to pass along costs. But realize that with new technology, investing in brand’s improved image, going after premium markets, offering new benefit or a format change, that cost of good increases could be a reality.

The watch outs with managing costs: with cuts, make sure the product change is not significantly noticeable. You should understand any potential impact in the eyes of your consumer on your brand’s performance and image. Can the P&L cover these costs, either increased sales or efficiency elsewhere. Managing your margin % is crucial to the long-term success of your brand.

  • Selling Cost Decrease: To counter changes in the P&L (price, volume or cost), it’s very tempting to look to short-term P&L management or look at changes in go-to-market model. Where a brand stands on the product life cycle or how loved the brand is can really impact the selling costs. Even though we think that Beloved Brands have endless spending, they actually likely have a lower investment to sales ratio.
  • Selling Cost Increase: When you’re in Investment mode, defensive position trying to hold share against an aggressive competitor or when you see a proven payback in higher sales–with corresponding margins.

Here’s a simple margin calculation to get you going:Slide1

Always be in an ROI mindset: Manage your marketing costs as though every DOLLAR has to efficiently drive sales. Realize that short-term cuts can carry longer term impact. Competitive reaction can influence the impact of investment stance–like a price change, your competitor might over-react to your increases in spending.

Externally, the Share and volume game are traditional tools for brand. Either stealing other users or get current users to use more.

  • Offensive Share Gains: Use it when you have a significant Competitive Advantage or you see untapped needs in the market. Or opportunistic, use first mover advantage on new technology.
  • Defensive Share Stance: Hold the fort until you can catch up on technology, maintain profitability, loyal base of followers needs protecting.

Be careful when trying to gain share. A Beloved Brand has a drawing power where it does gain share without having to use attack modes. Attacking competitors can be difficult. It could just become a spend escalation with both brands just going at it. After a share war that’s not based on a substantive reasoning (eg. technology change), there might end up with no winners, just losers. Many times, the channel will try to play one competitor against another for their own gain. Watch out what consumers you target in a competitive battle: some may just come in because of the lower price and go back to their usual brand.

  • Get Current Users to Use More: When there is an opportunity to turn loyal users into creating a potential routine. Changing behaviours is more difficult than enticing trial. It’s a good strategy to use, when your there’s real benefit to your consumer using more. It’s hard to just get them to use more without a real reason.

There has to be a real benefit connected to using more or it might look hollow/shallow. Driving routines is a challenge. Even with “life saving” medicines, the biggest issue is compliance. Find something in their current life to help either ground it or latch onto. When I worked on Listerine, people only used mouthwash 20-30 times a year compared to 700+ brushing occasions. So we focused on connecting rinsing with Listerine to the twice daily brushing routine.

Increase the Size of the Market by Finding New Users or Creating New Uses.

  • Find New Users: When there is an untapped or under-served need. There could be a significant changing demographic that impacts your base. Or you are able to translate/transfer your reputation to a new user group. There should be something within your product/brand that helps fuel the brand post trial. Trial without repeat, means you’ll get the spike but then bust. Substantial investment required. Don’t let it distract from protecting the base loyal users.
  • Create New Uses: Format Line Extensions that take your experience or name elsewhere. Able to leverage same benefit in convenient “on the go” offering. Make sure current brand is in order before you divert attention, funding and focus on expansion area. Investment needed, could divert from spend on base business. Be careful because the legendary stories (Arm and Hammer) don’t come along as much as we hope.

As you look to either grow by share or new categories the two crucial calculations for you are Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) and Return on Investment (ROI) 

For CAGR, here is a calculation tool:

Slide1

And for Return on Investment (ROI):

Slide1

Show Your Work:  Just like in grade school where you get extra points for showing your work, the same thing goes when taking senior leaders through your assumptions.  

There is only one reason we have brands: to make more money than if we just had products.

To view a copy of How to drive Profits into your Brand, click below:

We offer brand coaching, where we promise to make your brand better by listening to the issues, providing advice that challenges you, and coaching you along a strategic pathway to reaching your brand’s full potential. For our brand leader training, we promise to make your team of brand leaders better, by teaching sound marketing fundamentals and challenging to push for greatness so that they can unleash their full potential. Feel free to add me on Linked In, or follow me on Twitter at @belovedbrands If you need to contact me, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or phone me at 416 885 3911

We make Brands better.

We make Brand Leaders better.™

Slide1

The 10 real reasons that Target failed in Canada

target5Having lost nearly $1 billion in its first year in Canada, and facing more multimillion-dollar losses, Target announced on Thursday it would discontinue its operations in Canada and close its 133 stores. While the news of them closing should not be a surprise, the speed in which they left feels pretty shocking. They didn’t even make the 2-year anniversary of the new store.

1. Target just wasn’t different. 

Brands really only have four choices: they can better, different, cheaper or not around for long. For Target in the US, they have always taken the “different” positioning–focused on cool suburban moms, broader offering. But in Canada, Target basically became Wal-Mart with red paint. They never found a way to separate themselves to be seen as different enough to get “new consumers” to try it out and yet they seemed to disappoint those potential loyal consumers who had already bought into the US version of Target. 

2. The suburban positioning already taken in Canada

In the US market, Wal-Mart grew up through the 70s and 80s as a small town or even a rural brand, providing the opportunity for Target to become the suburban version of Wal-Mart. But even looking at pure demographics, Canada has the biggest middle class population in the world, the population is very concentrated to six main cities, where as in the US there are many small towns scattered throughout. When Wal-Mart entered Canada, they purchased the retail footprint of Woolco, which was a suburban brand. The Wal-Mart strategy in Canada closely resembled what Target had done in the US: going after suburban moms, new/fresh stores, big wide/clean aisles making for a better shopping experience than in the Wal-Mart stores in the US.

3. The Low priced clothing for cool moms positioning was already taken in Canada

joe_freshLoblaws is the biggest food retailer and are known for a) copying great retailers around the world b) attacking their competitors viciously. While originally a grocery store, the Loblaws stores have become a mass merchandiser store where you can get the same low-priced clothing for the cool moms, via the JOE FRESH brand. This took away a potential competitive advantage for Target to leverage.

4. Target invested too much and too fast in new locations and new employees

Target launched 133 stores and hired 17,000 employees in Canada–almost half of Wal-Mart’s footprint in Canada, who have been here for 20 years. Taking on the leases of Zellers and then fixing up their locations was costly and crippling to the operations.Target tried to do way too much too soon–hurting their ability to deliver the same experience they are delivering in the US. Target had two strategic choices at launch: a) pick limited locations and do it right or b) cover everywhere in Canada as a preventative strategy against competitive attacks. They decided to be everywhere, and as we can see did a very bad job. They should have staggered their launch by starting with Toronto only, expanding to key markets as they established themselves and managed to create a loyal following. Operations were awfully sloppy. The procurement system was so poorly run that empty store shelves were not uncommon. Given the empty stores, it’s hard to really blame a run on merchandising.o-TARGET-CANADA-EMPTY-SHELVES-facebook

5. Target had no money left to actually drive demand

The best thing about Target is you could get a great parking spot, there were no crowds in the aisles and you didn’t have to line up to pay. Why? Because, there was no one there. As all the money went into the bricks and mortar of creating new stores, they had very little money left over for marketing. In the 18 months since launch, there was very little hype, no great advertising, no wonderful launch events, no press coverage, very little on social media. They never created the demand needed to drive revenue.

6. They didn’t have the same selection as their US stores

The most loyal Target shoppers in Canada had experienced the Target store in the US for years, whether they were cross border shopping or going to Target when they were vacationing in Florida, Arizona or California. And the biggest complaint they had about Target Canada is the lack of product breadth on the shelves. They were expecting the identical offering they saw in Target US. But that’s not a reality. Target is JUST a retailer at the mercy of what the manufacturers offer in Canada. There are numerous factors that impact the variety when it comes to Canadian manufacturers–the biggest being the relative size of listing fees that Canadian retailers demand are so big that launching smaller small skus just doesn’t make sense in Canada. The difference in government regulations will also alter what products can be available for sale.

7. Target US sales dropped the minute they announced they were going into Canada

Target is a very US centric brand, with Canada representing their first attempt at International–and it might be their last. As soon as they launched, they faced declining sales and share in the US. It was unrelated, but now Target management faced two issues at once–a turnaround strategy to solidify US sales and a launch strategy internationally. Anytime you divert your attention, you’re likely to mess one of them up, and the Canadian launch suffered. 

8. The dropping Canadian dollar messed up their financial contributions

Screen Shot 2015-01-18 at 11.48.38 PMWhat is not mentioned very often is that the Canadian Dollar has fallen from relative parity when they were considering launching two years ago to 0.83 cents. That has a two-fold impact: the reporting of sales and profits internationally just took a 17% hit due to exchange and the imported items from the US just saw a big cost increase that will bite into the margins. With those loyal Target shoppers already upset that the Canadian and US prices are not equal, there was very little opportunity for Target to cover the impact of the dollar in their P&L. 

9. Target saw very little risk to leaving

When they made the decision to exit Canada, they did so very quickly and from reading everything said this week by Target, they showed very little remorse. The opening of their press release started by telling the US manufacturers that this statement had zero impact on the US stores or their standing with manufacturers in the US. Rather than bite the full financial bullet, Target has asked for somewhat of a bankruptcy protection, like Chapter 11 in the US. I guess the question is “why are they asking for any protection?”.  Yes, they said they would create a trust that would cover 16 weeks of severance pay for “most” of their employees. The “most” line caught my eye, which feels similar to that classic “Up to 70% off everything in store”. We shall see how fairly they treat ALL 17,000 employees. And will the protection get them out of leasehold agreements that leave malls empty and scrambling to fill them and will they treat the uniquely Canadian manufacturers the same as they treat their US manufacturers. 

10. Their loyal consumers embraced Target more than Target embraced their consumers

When consumers care more than the brand, that brand is in trouble. And from what I can see, there still are many loyal Target consumers who are disappointed in the news. At Beloved Brands, we believe passion matters, because the more loved a brand is by consumers, the more powerful and profitable that brand will be. Target did very little to create love with consumers. Their promise lacked any real difference and they failed to tell their story to the Canadian marketplace. There was zero magic in the way they connected with consumers and zero magic in the experience in the stores. 

Let this be a lesson to the next retailer who will venture into Canada

At Beloved Brands, we run a Brand Leadership Center to train marketers in all aspects of marketing from strategic thinking, analysis, writing brand plans, creative briefs and reports, judging advertising and media. To see a workshop on THE BRAND LEADERSHIP CENTER, click on the Powerpoint presentation below:

We make Brands stronger.

We make Brand Leaders smarter.™

We offer brand coaching, where we promise to make your brand better by listening to the issues, providing advice that challenges you, and coaching you along a strategic pathway to reaching your brand’s full potential. For our brand leader training, we promise to make your team of brand leaders better, by teaching sound marketing fundamentals and challenging to push for greatness so that they can unleash their full potential. Feel free to add me on Linked In, or follow me on Twitter at @belovedbrands If you need to contact me, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or phone me at 416 885 3911Positioning 2016.081

 

Beautiful Ads that pay tribute to our Veterans will bring a tear to your eye

poppyToday is Remembrance Day in Canada–a day we pay honour to our veterans from the wars in our history and sadly even today. These young soldiers fight for our freedom.  

Remembrance Day (also known as Poppy Day) is a memorial day observed in Commonwealth of Nations member states since the end of the First World War to remember the members of their armed forces who have died in the line of duty. Remembrance Day is observed on 11 November to recall the end of hostilities of World War I on that date in 1918, as hostilities formally ended “at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month”.  Every Canadian kid learns about “In Flanders Fields”, which is a war poem, written during the First World War by Canadian physician Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae (November 30, 1872 – January 28, 1918) who was a Canadian poet, physician, author, artist and soldier during World War I, and a surgeon during the Second Battle of Ypres, in Belgium.  He was inspired to write “In Flanders Fields” on May 3, 1915, after presiding over the funeral of friend and fellow soldier Alexis Helmer, who died in the Second Battle of Ypres. According to legend, fellow soldiers retrieved the poem after McCrae, initially dissatisfied with his work, discarded it. “In Flanders Fields” was first published on December 8 of that year in the London-based magazine Punch. flanders-fieldThe red remembrance poppy has become a familiar emblem of Remembrance Day due to the poem In Flanders Fields. These poppies bloomed across some of the worst battlefields of Flanders in World War I, their brilliant red colour became a symbol for the blood spilled in the war.

Here are some beautiful ads that pay tribute to the veterans and war heroes.

This ad from Bell in Canada, from the 1990s pays tribute to a war hero from Dieppe in World War II.  

This ad from Guinness called “Empty Chair” is a nice quiet tribute to a soldier, awaiting their return home.

Budweiser has done quite a few ads to salute our heroes of war, but “Welcome Home Troops” in 2006 is so simple, no words are needed.

At 11am, in my hometown of Ottawa, 80,000 people will gather at the War Memorial for a moment of silence. Last month, an unarmed solider Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, only 24 years old was shot in the back as he guarded this war memorial.  Today, we will honour his memory along with all those soldiers lost to war.  

ottawa monument i

 

LEST WE FORGET

Has Mayor Rob Ford destroyed the Toronto brand?

Toronto the Good

I’m from Toronto, but I’m not really from here, if you know what I mean.  It seems most people in Toronto are from some place else.  That’s what makes it such a great place to live.  It’s visibly impossible to tell the tourists from the locals.  Toronto is a beautiful collection of cultural pockets, Italian, Greek, Jamaican, Chinese, South Asian, Brazilian, Jewish, Korean and everyone else woven throughout the city. If you love multiculturalism, Toronto is the place to be.  I love it. 

0704prideToronto has a vibrant LGBT community, with one of the world’s largest Gay Pride parades.  Our premier (equal to a governor in the US) is a lesbian and yet her sexual orientation didn’t really make the news cycle, before or after she came into office.  Isn’t that a healthy sign of a modern day world?

The hot political issues you hear in other parts of the world won’t be discussed at the lunch table in Toronto.  No one really talks about gay marriage, free healthcare, abortion and gun control.  We’ve implemented  solutions and kinda moved on past these issues.  Gay Marriage has been legal since 2003, Healthcare has been free since the 1950s, Politicians never talk about abortion anymore and in most provinces it’s fully funded under the healthcare laws.  We think guns are a problem, because that’s a big issue for us, but in reality, Toronto only has 50 murders per year compared to 500+ in Chicago (same sized cities).   

Toronto is different.  Toronto is very modern.  Toronto is good.   ‘Toronto the Good’ is one of the city’s many nicknames, first used in 1888 when there was a campaign for moral purification.”  Toronto is a fairly pure city.  

It would be safe to say that Rob Ford is a far cry from purification and not likely a fitting leader of “Toronto the Good”. 

So what is Toronto’s brand?  

Toronto is a well respected city, some love it, but almost all like it.  People see all the good, whether it’s multiculturalism or the fairly liberal virtues of the city we offer.  And clean comes up every time.

As for the Toronto tag line, I’m not sure we have one.  I’ve never heard one.   We have some good shopping, good collection of live theatre, a noteworthy ballet and a solid film festival.  We have the greatest hockey team on earth that last won in 1967.  We had the tallest structure (not building) in the world and maybe top 3 now.  We are close to Niagara Falls, a short two hours away.

Wow, who the heck are we?  

Here goes:  Toronto is a nice place to live.  

There I said it.  I’m sorry.  That’s really what the Toronto brand is all about.   We aren’t sexy, fun, wild or insane.  We are nice.  Polite.  Friendly.  Comfortable.  Courteous.  Safe.  And Clean.  

We are a nice place to live.  Embrace it.  

I guess that’s why Toronto never makes the US news.

Enter Stage Left:  Mayor Rob Ford

Well, this week Toronto finally got its wish.  We made the US news. 

hi-rob-ford-interactive-852For those who don’t know, Rob Ford, Toronto’s infamous mayor has admitted that yes, he smoked Crack last summer, but it was likely during one of his many drunken stupors.  His words.  It’s re-assuring that at least we know he was too drunk to remember.

Toronto has finally made the US news cycle and we are on every late night TV show.  I was watching Jimmy Kimmel last night and he just said “Rob Ford” without even saying “Toronto’s Mayor Rob Ford”.  Wow, we have hit the big time.  We are famous finally.  Embrace this Toronto.  

Here is Toronto’s seven minutes of fame on the Daily Show with John Stewart.  Tourism Toronto could not afford this coverage.  

 

So what’s the damage to the Toronto brand?  

First of all, what’s the damage to the Rob Ford brand?  None.  People in Toronto have known Ford was like this for a long time.  So this is not really new to us.  Just good comedy.  Even back last year there was a fun list of 21 things about Rob Ford that will get a good chuckle.  “The 21 Things to Know About Rob Ford” New York Magazine   

There are contrasting Rob Ford poll numbers floating around that could give him room to repair this.  On the positive side, his job approval rating is up 5% compared to before the crisis.  But 60% of the people are saying he should resign.  So if he can find a way to put this behind him and create some “comeback story”, then his core supporters could help him to stay in office.  Check himself into re-hab, lose 30 pounds and come out a changed man.  Just follow the Bill Clinton playbook.

Good brands have to be either better or different.  In the high taxed political world of Toronto and Canada, Rob Ford occupies a very unique message in Toronto, that of “lower taxes”.  He’s almost the wrong guy with the right message.  If someone comes along with a “lower taxes” message but in a much refined image, then Rob Ford could be ousted.  No longer unique.  

As for the Toronto brand, I think it’s relatively safe.  I know local people are “embarrassed” and ranting on Facebook about what a disgrace this is to Toronto.  It won’t really damage the city.   Toronto has such a squeaky clean image, this will fade into the news cycle and won’t come back to haunt us.  In the last 20 years, we’ve seen so many politicians do some pretty bad stuff that we are long past that.   Nobody equates the bad behavior back to where they are from.  

With or without Rob Ford, Toronto will always be “Toronto the Good”

 

 

To read more about Beloved Brands

 

 

email-Logo copyABOUT BELOVED BRANDS INC.:  At Beloved Brands, we are only focused on making brands better and making brand leaders better.Our motivation is that we love knowing we were part of helping someone to unleash their full potential.  We promise to challenge you to Think Different.  gr bbi picWe believe the thinking that got you here, will not get you where you want to go.  Our President and Chief Marketing Officer, Graham Robertson is a brand leader at heart, who loves everything about brands.  He comes with 20 years of experience at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke, where he was always able to find and drive growth.  Graham has won numerous new product and advertising awards. Graham brings his experience to your table, strong on leadership and facilitation at very high levels and training of Brand Leaders around the world.  To reach out directly, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com

At Beloved Brands, we love to see Brand Leaders reach their full potential.  Here are the most popular article “How to” articles.  We can offer specific training programs dedicated to each topic.  Click on any of these most read articles:

Ask Beloved Brands to run a workshop to find your brand positioning or ask how we can help train you to be a better brand leader.

Ikea: “Long Live the Home” is Easy to Love

I’ve always loved Ikea.   As a kid, I’d pour through their catalogues reconfiguring my room in my mind.  Most recently, I took my 13-year-old girl to Ikea and she must have said about 38 times “I’m serious Dad, I want that.”   I can sympathize.

Ikea is fully committed to creating magic for their consumers, whether it is in product designs or in their advertising.    Whether it was the Ikea Lamp Ad (“Many of you feel bad for this lamp.  That is because you’re crazy…”) or the Subway ad where they took a plain and boring subway car and turned it into a lively home you could live in.   Ikea was in the same class as Volkswagen where they’d surprise and delight you on a regular basis.   However, over the last few years, the ads seemed to be missing the magic—I was trying to understand the symbolic nature of the ads, but it wasn’t really connecting with me.  The risk of talking to yourself is you don’t connect and you lose your beloved status.   Ask the Gap.

But this year, Ikea has begun to make their advertising comeback, thanks to the powers of Leo Burnett who can turn brand purpose into brand magic.   And while Ikea always had great ads, it was always hard to piece these ads together until “Long Live the Home” came along this year to establish a Big Idea in the marketplace.   The work is truly beautiful.

One of the hardest things to do is come up with a Big Idea for a Brand, especially in the case of a Branded House.   For a case like Ikea, the idea needs to be big enough to establish the brand idea, yet still sell kitchen cabinets, chairs and closets.   Internal conflict gets in the way of creating a Big Idea and standing behind it:  a) how much brand vs product b) how much equity vs selling c) who makes the ad and finally d) who pays for it internally—brand or product marketing?    You really need to commit to making it happen, and gain the full support across the organization—usually starting from the Top.   Big Ideas like “Think Different”, “Just Do It” and “I’m Loving It” are some of the best examples of Idea lines that connect the brand with consumers and even transform their way right into the culture of everything they do.  That’s where Ikea needs to go next.

There are many brand and business benefits to a Big Idea.   Big ideas should have a 5-10 year life, giving brands a consistent idea to connect behind.   It makes it easier to come back to the brief each year.  Also, there becomes a tone, a character and sometimes a series of devices that help frame the Idea that makes it easier to control how the brand shows up, over time, across various mediums and across the various business units.

Ikea follows the best in class use of the Big Idea, with a 60 second anthem style Ad to establish the Big Idea in the consumers mind, and then separate product ads across various mediums and built into the website, in-store and catalogue.   The TV ads are beautifully shot and connect on a deeply emotinal level, the print ads of high quality and connect.  I really like the unique product Ads they’ve done wheter it is TV ads that sell kitchens or print ideas that sell closets, while staying within the Big Idea.

However, I didn’t notice the idea making its way when I looked at the store level.  I’d love to see “Long Live the Home” be built right into the Ikea culture, brought down to the store level and even begin to influence their customer service.   The big idea becomes more than a tag line, but rather a promise the brand stands behind at every stage of the brand. Without the full comittment to brand all the way through the Love Curve, the magic of the great advertising and cool product designs sets up a High Promise that Ikea struggles to deliver at the experience stage and leaves consumers yearning for more.

That commitment to brand at every touch point has helped propel the Apple brand to the next stratosphere of Beloved Brand.  Ikea, you’ve done such a fantastic job with the advertising, my only ask is that you keep going to make it part of the brand. 

As a bonus for fans of past Ikea Advertising, here is Lamp and the Subway Spots.

New Loblaws At Maple Leaf Gardens: A Love Affair with Food.

New Loblaws store at Maple Leaf Gardens

There hasn’t been a line up at the Gardens for 10 years.  But there was today.  Maple Leaf Gardens is the heart and soul of many Torontonians and yet inside now sits a grocery store.

The launch of the new Loblaws in the heart of Toronto is clearly a stake in the ground to say “we love food”.   In fact, Loblaws screams it.   I must confess that I love grocery stores, big and small, everywhere on earth.  I’ve been known to sneak into grocery stores on my holidays just to look around—from Paris to Edinburgh, from Monaco to Auckland and from St. Petersburg to San Francisco.   And now in Toronto, I’ve seen the nicest grocery store I’ve ever seen.

From the turnaround in the 1980s, with Dave Nichol and the creation of the President’s Choice brand that enticed so many, Loblaws reached Beloved status, clearly ahead of any competitor in sight. Consumers admired Loblaws and the great things they were doing while competitors and vendors feared them.

The Beloved Loblaws brand of the 90s had fallen back to Like It, as everyone caught up. This new store is a stake in the ground that Loblaws can be loved again.

As Loblaws stumbled in the early 2000s, with mergers and internal politics, they became obsessed with beating Wal-Mart and started to look like Wal-Mart.   Before 2003, Loblaws and Westfair operated seperately.  With Wal-Mart getting stronger, the desire to be a Mass Merch was taking over.  They were no longer a grocery store and now clearly a Mass Merch store.  They launched glorious sized stores that they named “Real Canadian Super Store” which is about as generic of a name as you can get.  In fact, Wal-Mart calls theirs “Super Centre”–almost the same.   These mega sized stores are filled with cheaper versions of T-Fal pans and $15 blankets.   The Loblaws name was nowhere to be seen.  Why? Because of internal politics.    Competitors were catching up, Sobeys and Metro launched some pretty good copy cats.  Loblaws didn’t really do anything in a while.   And Loblaws was falling from Beloved back to Liked and it was now the same as the rest.  

Today, as I approached the new Loblaws store, the first thing I noticed was “Great Food” attached to the logo.  And once inside, that’s all I saw–Great Food.   I saw all the cupcakes, the cheeses and of course the Chocolate Mound where I bought some freshly carved slices of chocolate.

Chipping a piece of Chocolate from the Mound of Chocolate. Very fresh taste.

Everyone was making stuff:  freshly cooked chickens and freshly baked breads.  Rejoice in the love of food.  I kept saying “wow” at every turn.  The fresh bread, baked right before your eyes.   Most grocery stores say Fresh all the time, this one was showing it.

Loblaws took a giant step forward, a step back from liked towards beloved, helping to separate themselves from the competition.   And as I said many times in the 80s and 90s, “I can’t wait to see what Loblaws does next”.   Exciting.  

Here are some more photos of the New Loblaws at Maple Leaf Gardens.

Wall of Cheese on display.
The most impressive signal of Fresh was that there must have been a hundred people in the process of making something.
First Line up at MLG since 1999.
Very beautiful lighting, feels European and Expensive
Vantage from above the fresh produce area.
Deli counter with fresh foods all around.
Old Seats from the Old Gardens. Golds were the best back then.

Holt Renfrew: a beloved luxury brand trying to be liked by the masses

“No one goes there anymore because it’s too crowded”  – Yogi Berra quote

The never-ending recession has every brand agonizing over decisions on a daily basis. The biggest decision is around Price, and the need for volume balanced off against the perceptions of Brand Equity.

This past week, I was at Holt Renfrew, Canada’s answer to Barneys, Saks Fifth Avenue and Selfridges. I’m not a big fan of Holts. I wish I was a fan, but my Scottish blood makes me way too cheap to ever find something within a reasonable price range. Well, guess what people? Holt’s is now filled with items you can afford, and the place is packed.

At first glance, it appears as though Holt Renfrew is immune to the recession.  So I decided to join the crowd and look around.   I saw a Holt Renfrew branded travel beauty bag, which was a $100 value, but for sale at a price of only $25–and it even included a $10 bounce back coupon off my next purchase. Perfect gift for my daughter. Next, I walked past ladies winter hats, saw the perfect gift for my mom.  I flipped over the tag:  $25.  I even got the nice pink box to the put the hat in, which I think the box has even more prestige value than the money I paid.  I walked out with the nice big pink Holts bag, proudly walking along Bloor Street, knowing that everyone must have thought “wow, that guy has money”.   If only they knew, I spent 56 bucks, including GST.  It just seems wrong.

For those who want the $25 Make Up Bag, here’s the link and you better move fast: 

http://www.holtrenfrew.com/holts/pages/articles/article.dot?url=103272&language_id=1 

Did I mistakenly walk into the Bay, instead of Holts?  No, there’s no way the Bay would be dumb enough to sell a Travel Bag or a winter hat for only $25. This is like getting a Mercedes for around $15,000 or staying at the Four Seasons Hotel for $59 a night.  It gives the masses a piece of luxury, but at a cost.

The short term attempt at sales gains is off-set by the longer term sales decline when your core customer stops coming.  For Holts, they’d have to sell 100 make up bags to the masses just to make up for the revenue lost from one $2500 dress from a core consumer. And in terms of profitability, if we assume the dress has 40% margins and the make up bag only 10% margins, Holts would have to sell 400 make up bags to make up for that one dress. And it gets even worse when the masses realize they still can’t afford to buy anything beyond these cheap and cheerful items.

Famous little blue box from Birks.

But we’ve seen this story before, in Birks. Through the 1980s, Birks had grown to 225 stores, and was trying to be all things to all people.  You could walk into a Birks in Mississauga, put down $125 for some nice pearls and walk out with the little blue box, guaranteed to make any woman drool when she sees that box.  But in 1992, Birks declared bankruptcy–they went back to what made them famous and who they were. They re-trenched so that all Birks locations were in special locations.  And you needed to save up so you could afford something to go in the pretty blue box.  They figured out that it’s ok if the masses drool, but can’t afford.

Holt Renfrew Pink bag carried with pride around Toronto.

As we’re in the midst of the debate around 99% vs 1%, Holts has to realize who they are and who they cater to. Every time they dip into the 99%, they lose a consumer in the 1%.   There has to be some reverence the masses have when they walk past the windows at Holts.   They have to feel a bit scared when they look at the price tags. They have to be worried they are out of their element. If that Pink Holts bag I so proudly displayed quickly becomes a commodity, then the core audience–the one percenters–will find somewhere else to shop.

As Holt’s looks to see if they can see the end in sight to the recession, they might not realize that they are already seeing the beginning of the end in sight of their status as a Beloved Brand. The lesson: trying to be liked by everyone might mean you end up loved by no one.